Police release image of mother that resembles baby found dead in Bowness in December
Police continue to investigate the death of an infant whose body was found in the Bowness area on Christmas Eve and have released an image of the child’s mother that was generated using DNA phenotyping.
The baby was discovered by a local resident behind a grocery store near Bowness Road and 79 Street N.W. at about 11:30 p.m. on December 24, 2017.
Police believe the baby girl was born about 24 hours before she was abandoned and say there were no signs of trauma on her body.
Evidence at the scene suggested that the mother may have needed medical attention but police have been unable to locate her despite numerous pleas to the public for tips.
“We have exhausted all other investigative inquiries. Right now, we do not know who the mother is, we do not know if the mother placed the child there, we can’t make that assumption. We’ve exhausted CCTVs in the area, neighbour inquires, so we are really at an investigative standstill,” said Schiavetta.
Police collected biological material from the scene and enlisted the help of a company in Virginia to create a scientific approximation of the mother’s features.
“We were able to extract the mother’s DNA from DNA located at the scene. So we have the mother’s DNA. We ran that DNA through the RCMP data bank and we have not been able to locate a match hence we went to this innovative process of using phenotyping DNA,” said S/Sgt. Martin Schiavetta of the Calgary Police Service Homicide Unit.
The process uses DNA phenotyping to predict physical appearance and ancestry and police say it is the first time they have used the technology.
Ellen Greytak is the Director of Bioinformatics at Parabon and says only a nonogram of DNA is needed to conduct the tests and that the results can make and break cases for investigators.
“This is really a new way to think about DNA. Instead of just a biometric or a finger print that you can match against a data base or against suspects who you’ve already identified, we’re treating the DNA like a blueprint. It actually contains all the information that produced that person so we can tell investigators some new information they didn’t have before about that person’s eye colour, their hair colour, their ancestry, their face shape. That’s all information that investigators can use to generate leads to prioritize their suspect list, to go public and get tips from the public, there’s just a lot of options that they didn’t have before,” said Greytak.
On Wednesday morning, police released a composite image of the baby and a likeness of the baby’s mother, but say the image produced of the child’s mother is not an exact composite sketch.
“This is not an exact likeness or a composite sketch. There will be similarities to the person that we believe is the mother. So if a person has information and the image does not look exactly like the mother we encourage them to call the police,” said Schiavetta.
The scientific estimate shows that the mother is likely of mixed race and that she might be Metis or of indigenous decent. She is described as having fair skin, dark brown or black hair and hazel or green eyes.
Police say the baby’s death remains undetermined and that the mother is not considered a suspect.
“The first priority is to ensure that the mother’s physical and mental welfare is being looked after. Obviously, we have some very difficult and challenging questions to ask the mother. Even though the baby’s death is undetermined, obviously the circumstances leading up to that baby being placed in the dumpster are extremely suspicious,” he said.
Police say the images will likely generate new tips from the public and the characteristics that were identified by the phenotyping will help them to narrow those down.
Anyone who may have information on the identity of the woman or the events that led up to this incident is asked to contact the Homicide Tip Line at Homicide Tip Line at 403-428-8877,They may also call the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers anonymously through the following methods: